Despite losing 1-0 to Gillingham last weekend, Portsmouth still sit on top of the League 1 table with 27 points and have made an excellent start to the new season under manager Kenny Jackett.
Their loss to Steve Lovell’s men is Portsmouth’s sole one of the league campaign and the club look well on course to gaining promotion back into the Championship if they can maintain their current form.
Pompey, though, face competition from Sunderland with the Black Cats having also started off the season well with Jack Ross at helm.
The Scotsman, along with his Portsmouth counterpart, is making quite the impression in the third tier of English football.
So how do the two League 1 managers match up?
Following Paul Cook’s departure to Wigan Athletic last summer, Jackett was appointed Portsmouth manager and was able to guide the newly-promoted League 1 side at the time to a respectable eighth place finish during his first season at Fratton Park.
And the 56-year-old looks as if he has been able to develop his side even further given the start Portsmouth have made to the campaign.
All in all, Jackett appears to be a very promising appointment made by the Portsmouth hierarchy, and the former Rotherham United boss is continuing to show all the signs of a very good coach.
Jackett opted to play around with a three at the back system during the second half of Portsmouth’s Checkatrade Trophy win at Crawley with key players missing and has suggested it is something he could go with again.
“That system is something we have been close to on one or two occasions, so I wanted to experiment in the second half [versus Crawley],” Jackett told publications including Portsmouth News.
“It can either get us back into a game if we are behind or, in a tight match, to pose the opposition a different type of problem. It’s an option we need to look at – and Tuesday night was the right time to experiment with it.”
Jackett’s words are the words of a versatile and adaptable coach, and that bodes very well for Portsmouth.
TT Grade: B
With Sunderland condemned to back-to-back relegations and having gone through a change of ownership, Chris Coleman was released from his duties and replaced by Ross who had enjoyed a successful tenure with Scottish outfit St. Mirren.
And while there is nothing to suggest Coleman would not have been a success with Sunderland in League 1, the decision to bring in Ross looks a good one, nonetheless.
The 42-year-old is a modern-day coach keen for his team to play an attacking brand of football, while he has already shown at Sunderland that he is not afraid to give young players in the squad prominent roles.
19-year-old Josh Maja is currently the club’s top scorer with nine goals, and the Fulham youth product’s team-mate Denver Hume has spoken specifically about the influence Ross has had on Sunderland’s youngsters.
“I think it’s great [to see so many youngsters getting a chance],” Hume told Chronicle Live. “You mentioned a couple of names there [Bali Mumba, Maja] and I think it’s great that the staff have given us that opportunity.
“When you see people getting their chances that pushes you on. Josh Maja, he’s done great this season and that makes other people want to push on and see what they can do when they push up to the first team.”
Ross has spoken about his ambitions to manage the Scotland national team one day (via BBC Sport), but early signs suggest Sunderland would be wise to keep hold of their man for as long as possible.
TT Grade: B+
Jackett and Ross are two of the top coaches in League 1 right now and while the former is currently leading the entire pack, the latter deserves just as much praise if not more.
Sunderland — a club that were in complete disarray — now look to be on the rise under their Scottish boss.
With that in mind and considering what Ross has brought to Wearside and how much his stock is likely to increase should the Black Cats gain promotion back to the Championship, the Sunderland boss edges this battle between League 1 managers
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